First countries sign UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons

September 20, 2017

The day after US President Trump threatened North Korea with total destruction, another event is taking place at the United Nations in New York. Today the first countries are signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a treaty that outlaws all nuclear weapons.

This treaty is the result of months of negotiations. It forbids the use, possession and production of nuclear weapons, and also any assistance with nuclear weapons it. During negotiations, many countries explained that for them, the prohibition on assistance means no more profiting from the production of nuclear weapons Financial institutions,  like banks and pension funds, who are now investing in nuclear weapons, will need to end their investments.

History taught us that former treaties, like the ones on cluster munition bombs and landmines, have had a direct impact even on states not joining the treaty- including reducing the use of the weapons and preventing harm. This treaty is also expected to build on the norm against nuclear weapons, reinforcing non proliferation and, since it outlaws use and threat of use, reducing the risk. It may not have an immediate effect, but it does give countries a way to challenge reckless rhetoric by clearly defining it as an illegal threat.

The Netherlands
The Netherlands participated actively during the negotiations but at the end, voted against the treaty. The Netherlands continues to host US nuclear weapons, something that the treaty explicitly makes illegal. The Dutch are not yet ready to change this NATO practice, even though a majority of Dutch citizens have demanded the US weapons be removed, and the Dutch parliament has insisted on this action through repeated motions. PAX calls for the government to enter into negotiations to have US weapons removed from Dutch territory and end the Dutch nuclear task, and to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This will implement the wish of the government, the parliament and the Dutch citizens to realize a world without nuclear weapons, starting at home.

Today, responsible government leaders who sign the treaty will reaffirm that there are no right hands for wrong weapons.. PAX is present at the official signing ceremony today, and has played an strong role in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons (ICAN) the leading civil society coalition partner behind the treaty.

For more information on the financial sector and nuclear weapons, see the PAX report Don’t Bank on the Bomb (, for more on PAX’s work on nuclear weapons, see

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